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Castro criticises Obama's economic recovery plans

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Castro criticises Obama's economic recovery plans

Post  Admin on Sun Feb 08, 2009 3:10 pm

AS United States (U.S.) Vice President, Joe Biden, seeks to break with the unilateralist tilt of the George W. Bush years by emphasising cooperation and diplomacy in a major weekend foreign policy speech in Germany, the ailing former Cuban President, Fidel Castro, has accused Barack Obama of intending to print "enormous sums of money" to keep American society from grinding to a halt.

Biden's remarks tomorrow to the Munich Security Conference, a gathering of defence and security experts, will be scrutinised for more details on the new administration's policies on Russia, Afghanistan, the Middle East and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) expansion.

It was Castro's second critical essay of the U.S. leader. He had previously praised Obama, but last week, he wrote an essay in which he demanded that the new U.S. President return the Guantanamo military base to Cuba and criticised his response to the Israeli incursion into Gaza.

His latest column, posted on a government Web site, said that "any criticism on my part (of Obama) is classified, without exception, as an attack, an accusation or other similar names".

The 82-year-old revolutionary accused U.S. authorities of attacking Cuba throughout the 1960s, including with the Bay of Pigs invasion, but said it is not his intention "to blame President Obama for actions that were taken when he was a child of six".

He did question how the present-day U.S. would fare under Obama's stewardship, however.

He wrote, for example, that the United States "cannot satisfy its vital needs without the extraction of the enormous material resources of a great number of countries".

He questioned whether the new vehicles produced by the American automotive industry would be efficient enough to "meet the geological demands to protect humanity from the growing deterioration of the environment?"

He also said that he believes Obama "intends to print enormous sums of money in search of technologies that generate energy production without which modern societies would be paralysed."

Suffering from an unknown illness, Castro has not been seen in public since undergoing emergency intestinal surgery in July 2006. His younger brother, Raul, succeeded him as president almost a year ago.

Following Obama's inauguration, the elder Castro praised the new U.S. President as "intelligent and noble".

Meanwhile, Libyan leader, Moamer Gaddafi, has lavished uncharacteristic praise on Obama, describing his accession to the White House as a victory against racism and urging the first Black American President to lead his country boldly.

"The Black people's struggle has vanquished racism. It was God who created colour. Today, Obama, a son of Kenya, a son of Africa, has made it in the United States of America", he said.

Gaddafi, who has ruled over Libya for four decades, was speaking at the closing ceremony of an African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa which saw him take the reins of the 53-nation continental organisation.

"We hope he will be well protected and want him to be undaunted. America doesn't belong to the Whites alone. I hope he will be able to accomplish the change he carries in him", he said.

Gaddafi's elevation to AU chief stirred debate at the summit, with some nations unhappy about the choice. Under AU rules, the post rotates among Africa's regions and this year was set to go to a North African leader. Gaddafi was the only one present.

Over the past decade, Gaddafi has distanced himself from his fellow Arab leaders and turned most of his diplomatic attention to unifying the African continent.

Oil-rich Libya was long considered a state sponsor of terrorism by the United States.

But in October last year, Libya paid the United States 1.5 billion dollars as part of a settlement agreement over the 1988 bombing of an airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, that was the last hurdle to a full normalisation of ties with Washington.

Analysts said Biden's trip to Munich could go a long way toward repairing ties with Europe that were severely strained by former U.S. President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003, his policies on climate change and his confrontational approach to Russia.

"It is critical in setting the tone between this administration and the Europeans", said Sam Brannen, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

"Clearly they (Europeans) want him to say the transatlantic relationship is central", Brannen said.

Biden, on his first trip abroad as vice president, will head a delegation including retired Gen. James Jones, President Barack Obama's national security adviser; the U.S. military commander for the Middle-East and Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus; and Richard Holbrooke, newly appointed special envoy for Afghanistan.

Biden, who headed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for a long time, will hold bilateral talks with other leaders at the conference. German Chancellor, Angela Merkel and French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, are on the guest list.

"My instinct is that the message will be that we are here to listen, I am here to take notes", said Steven Weber, a political science professor at University of California, Berkeley.

Some media have speculated that Biden could use the conference to announce a review of the Bush administration's planned missile shield in Poland as an olive branch to Russia, but a senior White House official dismissed that.

"There will be no announcements beyond a broad and pretty forceful statement about the new administration's new approach to the transatlantic relationship and foreign policy in general -- a great emphasis on cooperation, diplomacy, respect for our allies and their concerns and opinions", the official said.

"But with all that positive outreach, we want in return ... we need our allies help to solve the world's biggest problems. That includes diplomatic, military, financial", he said.

Russian detente?

With the Obama administration trying to formulate a comprehensive strategy to tackle deteriorating security in Afghanistan, analysts said Biden would be asking for more support there, although they were divided on what form that could take -- from troops, to training, to development aid.

European leaders have been reluctant to risk soldiers' lives for a mission that is unpopular with voters, despite repeated appeals from Washington for more help and warnings that terrorism could spread if NATO was defeated there.

Analysts said Europeans would also be watching for any signs of a thawing in ties between the United States and Russia, which deteriorated under Bush and Russian leader, Vladimir Putin.

Obama and Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, agreed in a telephone call last week to stop the "drift" in ties between their two countries. Russia was later reported to have suspended plans to station missiles on the Polish border.

"We want to work with Russia and we want to see if we can get off on the right foot with Russia", the White House official said when asked whether Biden's speech would signal a new detente with Moscow.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Sergei Ivanov, will be at the conference, but it is not clear whether there are plans for him and Biden to meet.

"The whole point of Munich is that it provides lots of opportunities for a lot of side conversations", said Jeremy Shapiro, a fellow at Brookings Institution.

With Obama also expressing a willingness to talk directly to Iran over its disputed nuclear program, conference observers will also be watching for any encounter with members of Iran's delegation, who include Ali Larijani, parliament speaker and an influential conservative politician in the Islamic Republic.

But analysts said a meeting between Biden and Larijani was highly unlikely.



http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/world/article02/indexn2_html?pdate=060209&ptitle=Castro+criticises+Obama's+economic+recovery+plans

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